Work of Art

Title: The Apparition

Artist: Gustave Moreau
Completion Date: 1876
Style: Symbolism
Genre: religious painting
Technique: watercolor
Dimensions: 72 x 105 cm
Gallery: Musée du Louvre

“Des Esseintes saw realized at last the Salome, weird and superhuman, he had dreamed of. No longer was she merely the dancing girl who extorts a cry of lust and concupiscence from an old man by the lascivious contortions of her body; who breaks the will, masters the mind of a King by the spectacle of her quivering bosoms, heaving belly and tossing thighs; she was now revealed in a sense as the symbolic incarnation of world-old ice, the goddess of immortal Hysteria, the Curse of Beauty supreme above all other beauties by the cataleptic spasm that stirs the flesh and steels her muscles……a monstrous Beast of the Apocalypse, indifferent, irresponsible, insensible, poisoning, like Helen of Troy of the Classic fables, all who come near her, all who see her, all who touch her.”

—-J.K. Huysmans, À rebours (1884)

Painted in 1876, Gustave Moreau’s The Apparition continued to explore the legend of Salome’s Dance. Moreau appropriately chose to utilize watercolors instead of oil pigments for this work. By using lighter tones and blurring delineations, he succeeded in capturing a beatific vision during Salome’s contortions. In a state of physical ecstasy, Salome gestures towards a beatific vision of the rewards she passionately desires. The geriatric, withered Herod looks on in the background while all attention is drawn to Jokannan’s head. Surrounded by seraphic light, his martyrdom reminds the viewer of redemptive power and the fulfillment of prophecy.

Deeply fascinated with theophanic revelation, Moreau illustrated a fantastical vision experienced during the height of Salome’s dance. For only a glittering moment, reality blurs and the saint’s ultimate fate appears before us. Scenes of Orientalist splendor fade away into the background while the viewer exalts God’s martyred prophet. In the heights of whirling ecstasy, Salome stretches out her hand towards her dance’s ultimate reward. Moreau’s technique also served to heighten the mood and illustrate this scene’s transience. The viewer remains awed by this phantasmagorical reverie but knows that it will forever be burned into his very consciousness.

About Peter Sayles

Peter Sayles ist eine junge rechtsextremistischem und glühender New Englander